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Wednesday at Disney

We took the morning easy (OK, I did) as Krissi dealt with more work--I blogged, checked email, and did deal with a few work matters in email as well. I fetched baked goods from the Port Royal market area for breakfast in the room as we've done several times. We'll head to Epcot shortly to try for the Behind the Seeds tour, perhaps try a walk-in at one of the restaurants we haven't been able to get reservations for, then do some Tomorrowland wandering and some shopping, then will end the day early. We hope.

(Later) And the day worked pretty well. We signed up for the 4:30 Behind the Seeds tour, then set off to try to get into Le Cellier (Canada) as walk-ins. No joy, so it was off to Italy to try the same tactic at Tutto Italia. Hey, no problem. We sat on the patio, the weather being quite pleasant (to me, a little warm for Krissi, but she was wearing shorts). The meal was good, but quite pricey had we not been on the meal plan--$80 for 2 at lunch, for entrees, iced tea, and desserts. I had a grilled pork chop with sauteed mustard greens and mashed potatoes, which doesn't quite say 'Italian', I know, but I wasn't in the mood for pasta. Krissi had lasagna. I ended with zabaglione and strawberries, she had profiteroles.

After lunch we walked on around to the Japanese area and caught most of a holiday candy-making demonstration. The Japanese candy-maker was kneading color into some type of taffy-ish candy, then rapidly making animal and bird shapes after putting the blob of candy on a stick. She worked with her hands and a small pair of scissors, snipping and pulling to get feathered wings of a flamingo, the trunk, ears, and legs of an elephant, or the crest of a dragon. A few touches with a paintbrush and color for accents, then she'd hang the figure upside down to dry in front of a small fan while doing the next figure. Then the previous one would be bagged and given to the audience member who had selected the animal shape to be done. Then it was around and a brief stop at a Celtic band's performance at the U.K. area, then back to Future World and The Land, where we asked to move to the next earlier tour. No problem.

So, Behind the Seeds is an hour-long tour in the greenhouses attached to The Land, led by one of the many interns that run through this part of the Epcot operations. Our guide was Ali, who has a horticultural degree from Temple. She explained that internships almost never lead to jobs, because almost no one ever leaves the permanent positions--they love their jobs. The tour was great, showing a little of the pest management operations, hydroponics with squash plants dangling from a conveyer belt, their roots misted with nutrient solution as they moved along. The conveyer belt is just for show, but the produce is real--almost all of it is used at Epcot (though they can't produce enough to supply even all the Epcot food services). There were lots of different style growing systems, like tubes, stacked pots, spiral PVC, and trellises, all aimed at high yields. The greenhouses we were in are also part of the boat ride/tour in The Land, so while we'd be listening to our guide the tour boats would float through across the way, getting a different angle on the same stuff. That's probably why the vertical growing containers were decorated with tinsel and ribbons, and there was a big Christmas tree made of rosemary plants in the middle of the room.

As always, Disney has fun with their work. They grow squash shaped like Mickey heads by putting molds around the fruit while it's small, and the big lettuce display had red and green lettuce plants arranged to form another Mickey head. They have the Guiness record tomato plant for size and production--they grow it as a 'tomato tree' on a trellis, and let it just get bigger and bigger (putting out tomatoes all the while) for 18 months or so until the plant dies. Neat fact: pollination is a big issue for them, because the greenhouses are devoid of pollinating insects or wind. Wind they can supply with fans, but the plants that need insect pollination are done by hand. Rather labor-intensive...

After the temperate greenhouse we saw a small demonstration aquaculture area (striped bass, tilapia, sturgeon, channel catfish, shrimp, and alligator. No, they aren't serving alligator in Epcot--these are part of the conservation program, even though alligators are no longer endangered or threatened. Then it was on to the tropical greenhouse and the banana plants, cacao, pineapples, etc., and a short quiz on spices (ginger, pepper, allspice, and licorice to be precise). Very nice tour. Krissi and I immediately went on the boat ride, there being no line for the ride and it being a way to get off our tired feet for a few minutes.

Next up was a visit to Figment, the star of the Imagination! pavilion. Figment is a purple dragon, and Krissi collects Figment pins--we had to drop in an get re-aquainted with the original. Coming out of that it was dark, and we caught a bus back to the Caribbean Beach resort. Made a stop at the food court for mediocre food court hamburgers and fries, then came back to our room. K. is working, and I'm reading email and trying to get a little of the blog done. Posting yesterday and today shortly, without a second read-through for edits and typos....at least something is posted.

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Nancy Barber

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